Man sues for R10m over botched leg amputation

2016-02-02 12:12
Raisethorpe resident Deon Pillay is suing the Department of Health for alleged medical negligence, which he claims resulted in his right leg being amputated above the knee.

Raisethorpe resident Deon Pillay is suing the Department of Health for alleged medical negligence, which he claims resulted in his right leg being amputated above the knee. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg man is suing the Department of Health for R10 million over an alleged botched leg amputation.

Confined to a wheelchair and crutches, Raisethorpe resident Deon Pillay’s entire life came to an abrupt halt in 2011 when he claims he was misdiagnosed, resulting in a below-knee amputation at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.

However, that was not the end of his troubles.

Pillay’s surgical wounds were, he says, left untreated, resulting in infection. His leg then had to be amputated above the knee at a private hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Pillay said he once had a successful food commodities business, but now supports his family on a government disability grant.

Seeking retribution, Pillay is suing the department for R10 890 000 for the medical expenses he incurred from the private hospital, for past and future loss of income, general damages and future medical expenses.

According to the Pietermaritzburg high court summons, which The Witness has in its possession, Pillay, who is diabetic, was admitted to an Estcourt hospital in July 2011 after suffering severe pains in his right leg.

“The plaintiff [Pillay] was diagnosed with and treated for a sciatic nerve problem [sciatica] in the right leg,” reads the summons.

Sciatica refers to pain or neurological symptoms felt along the sciatic nerve that runs on each side of the lower spine into the back of the thigh and down to the foot.

Returning to the Estcourt hospital again in August that year, Pillay was allegedly diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in the right leg and transferred to Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban, where he was given a third diagnosis.

The summons says that Pillay was “diagnosed with an embolic occlusion and a non-viable right leg”, which he was advised by a doctor to have amputated.

After his amputation, the leg became infected while at the hospital, resulting in the development of septicaemia — an infection of the blood commonly caused by bacteria.

Seeking better treatment, Pillay had himself discharged and was thereafter admitted to St Anne’s in Pietermaritzburg, where his leg was amputated above the knee to prevent the spread of infection.

Pillay, who has pursued payment for almost five years, said he was misdiagnosed and that he in fact had blood clots in his leg, which could have been easily removed without the need for amputation.

“This has altered my entire life. I ran a successful business and was a national sales person before that. I had big plans for my life and for my family’s life, but that has all faded,” he said.

“Now I have to rely on support from family, but that will not last forever. What those people [the doctors] did to my life is inexcusable.”

Health Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi would not comment on the matter. A court date is yet to be set.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health

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